Thursday, July 30, 2009

When I was ordained

Just some random recollections of myself and the church at the time I was ordained in 1980:

I needed to wear running shoes because during the previous month my youth group had talked me into trying to water ski and I had injured my ankle. (My ankle returned to normal size in a matter of weeks, but it has never been the same.)

The church in which I was ordained was the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

The denominational headquarters was at 475 Riverside Drive in New York City.

The terminology of 'teaching elder' and 'ruling elder' was very much in use and well-understood in the Presbyterian Church.

There was a position called Assistant Pastor. (That was my first position in the first church I served as a teaching elder.)

Assistant Pastors and Associate Pastors were not members of the Session. (Soon after I was ordained the church would vote on changing this rule. At the time, I thought the change was a bad idea. I was wrong.)

The session of the first church I served had recently studied the blue book report on Homosexuality and the Church. But they were uncomfortable even talking about the experience of studying the issue.

The General Assembly (the church's most inclusive governing body) met annually.

The Book of Order was published annually and was an inexpensive paperback with a non-glossy cover.

The Presbyterian alphabet soup of organizations and committees was populated with acronyms I have not seen in a long time, such as COWAC.

The UPCUSA was in conversations with the Presbyterian Church in the United States about reunion. Someone showed me a copy of the PCUS Book of Order and I could tell by the much smaller size of their book that the two churches had markedly different cultures and ways of relating to their constitutions.

There was no Committee on Representation. (I would later chair one of those for a couple years.)

The General Assembly had no Advisory Committee on the Constitution. (As the church considered reunion, I thought the addition of the ACC as part of a second way for the General Assembly to render constitutional interpretations was a bad idea. I was wrong.)

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